Business/Specialty Courts

Resource Guide

The term “specialty courts” can be defined very broadly to include all kinds of civil and criminal courts that have been established to deal with a specific type of case of a specific problem.  While these courts many not always be a separate court, they can involve a separate docket or calendar, and include such issues as complex litigation, tax issues, environmental issues, or court accessibility issues.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.

Featured Resource

Hannaford-Agor, Paula Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County: Commercial Court Evaluation. (2018).

Examines impact of the Commercial Court in cases not involving emergency relief and offers additional recommendations to help streamline the permanent Commercial Court.

The Chief Judges Task Force on Commercial Litigation in the 21st Century. (June 2012). This report provides recommendations on keeping the Commercial Division of the New York courts viable in the current economic climate.
American Bar Association Business, Commercial, and Complex Courts .

Includes a comprehensive list of court-related links. Must have ABA login for access.

Association of Corporate Counsel Business Courts. Advocates for the creation of business courts in order to satisfy the unique needs of businesses. Explains how business courts can utilize advanced case management techniques, new technology, or alternative dispute resolution.
Applebaum, Lee. The Steady Growth of Business Courts. (2011). Future Trends in State Courts. There is a two-decade evolution in the creation of business and commercial dockets within state trial courts. These “business courts” assign specialist judges to manage and decide commercial and business cases and have increased from three pilot dockets in 1993 to over 40 court programs within 22 states in 2010.

Business Courts Proposals for Reform

Coyle, John Business Courts and Interstate Competition. (2012). William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 53, p. 1915, 2012 This article evaluates the theories for establishing business courts in the states.
Tennille, Hon. Ben F. and Corinne B. Jones. Developments at the North Carolina Business Court.. (2010). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2010.

This article provides an update on the North Carolina Business Court which was first established in 1996.

Applebaum, Lee Some Observations on Modern Business Courts and the Bar’s Role in Their Development. (2009).

This paper presented at the Business Bar Leaders Conference sponsored by the American Bar Association provides a history of business courts and an update on current status.

New Hampshire Proposed Bill SB378. (March 2008). Text of SB387, pending signature by Governor Lynch, would allow the superior court to designate a judge to specifically be assigned to hear cases involving businesses where the dispute involves more then $50,000.
Robert M. Howard. Comparing the Decision Making of Specialized Courts and General Courts: An Exploration of Tax Decisions. (2005). Justice System Journal 26, no.2.

This article offers an exploratory comparison of the tax-case decision making process of the United States Tax Court and the United States District Courts and using data from 1996 and 1997, examines the differences in decision making of these courts, specifically focusing on expertise and ideology.

Hannaford-Agor, Paula. Complex Litigation: Key Findings from the California Pilot Program. (2004). Civil Action, Vol. 3 No.1.

This article covers the NCSC's evaluation of the California Complex Litigation Program. It traces the improvements in the three years since the program's inception and provides guidelines for future improvement and evaluation.

Hannaford-Agor, Paula, Nicole Mott, and Timothy Fautsko. Evaluation of the Centers for Complex Civil Litigation Pilot Program. (June 2003). NCSC and the California Administrative Office of the Courts.

This pilot program required a report evaluating the effectiveness of the program, including the number of complex cases filed, the impact of the pilot program on case and calendar management, and their impact on the trial courts, the attorneys, and the parties.

Hannaford, Paula, David Rottman, and Roxana Gonzalez. Focus on Business and Complex Litigation Courts. (August 2000). Civil Action: Vol 1, No 1.

This issue addresses commercial courts, business courts, and complex litigation centers that are manifestations of a new trend toward court specialization.

Business Courts Rules

General Rules of Practice for the North Carolina Business Court. (July 2006). The following Local Rules for the North Carolina Business Court were prepared by a committee of the North Carolina Bar Association. The committee has attempted to anticipate questions and issues that will inevitably arise with the expanded use of technology in complex cases.
Delaware Superior Court Civil Rules . Delaware Judicial Branch Rules 124-133, Rules Governing Civil Actions Subject to Summary Proceedings for Commercial Disputes.   

Business Courts State Resources

Order from Oregon Supreme Court . (December 2010). This order creates the Oregon Complex Litigation Court.
Business Court Status Report. (October 2013). Fulton County Superior Court This brief overview of the first five years of the business court’s operation includes major milestones, statistics, eligible cases and a description of the transfer process.
Report of the South Carolina Bar`s Task Force on Courts re: The Creation of a Business Court Pilot Program . (August 2007). South Carolina Bar Task Force This Report chronicles the work of the Task Force including a statement of the purpose and need for a Business Court, a record of the research and investigation performed by the Task Force in arriving at its recommendation, and a prototype of the Task Force’s recommendation.
Robert, Amanda Businesses Making Increased Use of West Virginia's Specialized Court . Legal Newsline (November 2014). The specialized business court created in West Virginia in 2012 has increased efficiency in the West Virginia Court system and has decreased legal costs for businesses.


Business Courts. American Bar Association This website has a number of links to reports, articles, and other materials related to business courts and commercial litigation. Must have ABA login for access.
The American College of Business Court Judges. This organization is dedicated to promoting the development of specialized business courts through educational programs and outreach to judges in states that are considering the creation of such courts.
The University of Denver Environmental Courts and Tribunals Study. The University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Includes a general description of the purpose of and Environmental Court or Tribunal. Explains the connections between these specialized courts and climate change, human rights, and the poor. The report also looks at legal environmental issues in South America and the Caribbean.
University of Maryland School of Law. This website on Business and Technology Law includes an overview of state business, technology and complex courts/programs and a link to recent articles.

Night Courts

An Introduction to Drug Night Court. This assessment of the feasibility of establishing night courts for narcotics cases drew heavily on the experience of Cook County, Illinois, Circuit Court from the early 1990s.

Housing Court

4th District Housing court. Minnesota Judicial Branch This specialty court that handles cases involving landlord and tenant disputes. A landlord can bring an action to remove or "evict" a tenant from a rental property, and tenants can file a court action to enforce their legal rights. Housing Court is governed by MN Statutes Chapter 504B and the Housing Court Rules (MN Gen. Rules of Practice).
A Guide to Housing Matters. Connecticut Judicial Branch This brochure provides the history, structure, fees, and procedure for the housing court.
Cleveland Housing Court. The Housing Court has jurisdiction over criminal cases involving violations of the City’s housing, building, fire, zoning, health, waste collection, sidewalk and agricultural and air pollution codes. The court also hears civil cases involving landlord/tenant disputes.
Housing Court Answers. (2012). This resource provides help to people without lawyers at information tables in the city's Housing Courts, on a hotline which is open five days a week, and on this website.
Housing Court Department. The Massachusetts Court System The Housing Court jurisdiction extends to almost all areas that relate to residential housing.
Ramsey County Housing Court. Minnesota Judicial Branch Housing Court in Ramsey County hears and decides civil cases related to residential rental housing under Minnesota Statute 504B and criminal cases related to housing code enforcement.
The Toledo Housing and Environmental Court . The Housing and Environmental Court seeks to educate the community about housing issues and link homeowners with appropriate agencies in order to promote neighborhood health and safety in the City of Toledo.